Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jordan Cardella, Product of Child Welfare System

Odd twist on Cupid turns simply stupid

In a story that has gone viral, Jordan Cardella is being touted on the world wide web as stupid. He asked a friend to shoot him so that his ex-girlfriend would feel sorry for him and take him back. 

This isn't the first time Cardella asked a friend to injure him in order to obtain sympathy and to manipulate someone.

About ten years ago, Cardella was a child who was the subject of a child welfare case in Walworth County, Wisconsin. I worked on this case. I have observed the outcomes of Jordan's experiences as a direct result of that intervention. The outcomes for Jordan Cardella aren't pretty, but they are typical outcomes that children who are "protected" by the state experience. 

Walworth County touted the outcome of their intervention for Jordan Cardella as positive. I disagreed. Readers will note that Jordan is a felon. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Not credible proof of a job well done when one is bragging about the outcomes of child welfare interventions being positive. 

This is where I get to say I was right. Again. 

Jordan's mother was accused by the father--her ex-husband--of physically abusing Jordan. This was a transparent attempt to have a child support/custody dispute resolved in dad's favor by using child welfare to report mom for abuse and have the children placed with him, and then collect child support from mom. This happens all the time, and one would expect that the professionals who administer these cases could discern when they are being manipulated by parents. . . and children. The professionals in Walworth County demonstrated they do not posses the most basic discernment skills. That includes the bonehead judge, Carlson. 

Mom gave Jordan a spanking because he was threatening his older sister with a butcher knife when he was ten years old. Mom was charged with felony child abuse for that spanking. The story garnered international attention. Now, here's the rest of the story. . .

Mom gave the boy twelve swats with her left hand on his bare bottom, one for each year of his age and two to reinforce the lesson. There was no bruising at the time of the spanking. There were half a dozen adult witnesses to the spanking, and none reported that it was excessive or unreasonable. 

Left image filtered to make bruising look worse.
The district attorney, Phil Koss, insisted that mom caused serious bruising, and even took photos of the boy's bottom. Then he enhanced. . .aw, let's not pull punches, he tampered with the photographic images to make the bruising appear worse. See for yourself. These images come directly from the district attorney's file. The original photos were hidden in the back of the file and fell out right into my lap. (Incidentally, immediately after I filmed this tampered photographic evidence, I was approached by courthouse security officer Hausner who demanded I surrender my video tape. I refused and was arrested. I got the charges (disorderly conduct and obstruction) dropped, sued for false arrest, excessive use of force and more. . . and won.  Oh, and I got my tape back. We discovered the tampered evidence several years after the incident.) 

Back to the case. . .mom didn't cause that bruising. If you haven't already guessed, I conducted an investigation into this spanking incident and the administration of the child welfare civil case and the criminal case that arose out of that event.

The child welfare agency sided with dad, and recommended that Jordan be taken away from mom and placed with dad. Guardian ad litem, Frank Lettenburger, also sided with placing Jordan with dad, and went to great lengths to have mom convicted. It was a vendetta. But Lettenberger and the caseworker were adamant that the child's best interests were served by placing Jordan with dad, despite the record showing and multiple reports from reliable sources showing dad was a drug user and batterer. 

I received reliable reports that dad had coached Jordan to get mom to spank him, Jordan even bragged about it, taunting his mom. Then, out of the blue several years later, one of Jordan's little friends confessed to me that Jordan had told him to spank Jordan with a board to cause bruising. The friend did it, brutally beating Jordan's willing bottom with a board until it was bruised. And plucky little Jordan took the beating like a man. He then told dad mom spanked him, and dad reported it to the police. Mom was arrested and all her children placed in foster care. 

Koss used the tampered photographic evidence to coerce a misdemeanor plea bargain out of mom. She never saw the unaltered photos until I went to the courthouse several years later. But, Dad was ultimately charged with perjury arising out of his testimony about this event, and accepted a plea bargain to a lesser charge. Phill Koss was immune from liability for his prosecutorial misconduct. Mom got probation, but Jordan--and society--are the biggest losers. 

The dependency court, accepting the recommendations of child welfare and GAL Lettenberger, placed Jordan and his sister with dad. Lettenberger reported to the court that the children "are thriving in their father's home. . .doing well in school. . .have a number of friends, and are working through issue in counseling." The case was closed and nobody ever bothered to follow up on the welfare of the children. 

Jordan had learned his lessons well. Oh no, not the lessons his mom tried to teach him about proper conduct, responsibility and obedience, but the lessons his father and the professionals who administer child welfare taught him. 

He learned how to use the system to protect him from being corrected. He learned that even when the child lies, the professionals believe the child. His defiance escalated, and he became uncontrollable, engaging in bizarre, violent and dangerous conduct. Why not? He learned that he could tattle to the state if his parents tried to discipline him or correct him. He succeeded in having his way and having his mom thrown in jail when she tried to raise him to be a responsible adult. 

When Jordan turned fifteen, dad kicked the little monster he and Walworth County had created out of the house. Under Wisconsin child welfare laws, this constituted abuse and neglect, yet teflon dad never came under the scrutiny of child welfare. 

In order to survive on the streets of South Milwaukee, Jordan sold drugs, a skill he had reportedly learned from his dad. His felony conviction was for drugs. I won't even go into the rest of the illegal conduct that surround young Cardella's teenage years, but it was substantial. 

This begs the question. . .was that spanking a fork in the road? Would Jordan have turned out differently if Walworth County had not removed him from his mother because she spanked him? What if, instead of punishing mom for correcting Jordan, the state had supported mom? 

Certainly, if mom hadn't spanked him, he wouldn't have learned any lesson about not engaging in felony menacing and mom wouldn't have had her children removed and been thrown in jail. 

So, spank him and risk being arrested, don't spank him and be held responsible for his crimes because you didn't correct him? Does this sound fair or reasonable? Yet it is so. Parents are responsible for their minor children's criminal and tortious conduct, yet their hands are tied by the state from correcting them effectively. 

And what about dad? He is reportedly the laughing stock at work. I say, it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. 

You see, he also falsely reported me for kidnapping his daughter when he had seen into my car and saw she wasn't there. He chased me through the streets of South Milwaukee while I was on the phone to the police. They police--complete with a damned paddy wagon--surrounded me, detained me, stated he had accused me of kidnapping his daughter, and questioned me before letting me leave the scene. So make fun of dad, he deserves it. 

But let's not forget those incredible professionals who insured a willfully disobedient boy had no chance to grow up with the proper values and lessons: Judge Carlson, Frank Lettenberger and Walworth County case worker Leslie Mollet--I won't even go into the offensive naked butt checks she did on the kiddies.

All these professionals who walked away patting themselves on the back for a job well done need to know just what they did, don't you think? Make them the same laughing stock that dad is, after all, Jordan is the fruit of their labors. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should Parents Lose Custody of Obese Kids?

Again we have experts advocating the micromanagement of families by recommending that obese children should be removed from their parents (see article)  for no other reason than the child is fat. Fox News [dot]com reports:
Should parents of extremely obese children lose custody for not controlling their kids' weight? A provocative commentary in one of the nation's most distinguished medical journals argues yes, and its authors are joining a quiet chorus of advocates who say the government should be allowed to intervene in extreme cases.
These experts actually believe that removing a child from his non-abusive parents is far less damaging to him than the child being obese. Talk about denial. 
State intervention "ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible. That may require instruction on parenting," said Ludwig, who wrote the article with Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and a researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health.
Ideally state intervention will support the whole family? Since when is any government agency operated according to the ideals? Ideally, in all child welfare cases, the families would be allowed more than one supervised visit a week or month, and case plan that is not onerous, irrelevant and punitive, and a caseworker who isn't overworked, underpaid and making her recommendations based on a quotas rather than the best interests of the child. Hoping for the ideal administration of a child welfare case is not reasonable or rational.
"Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child," Murtagh said.
Discomfort?!!!  Forced separation from each other is much more than mere discomfort, it is sheer terror for most. Such an intervention holds the very real risk that the child will be abused in foster care, not to mention the psychological trauma caused by being torn from his parents. Then, there is the very real potential that parental rights will be terminated, presumably if the child doesn't lose the weight. These consequences are considered benign by these experts? Hello-oo? Losing your child to the state forever is far from benign.

Their proposed solution? Stranger foster care. A parent-for-pay who gets money to feed the child, money that--oh, I don't know--his biological parents could use to buy the right kind of food for him.
Ludwig said he starting thinking about the issue after a 90-pound 3-year-old girl came to his obesity clinic several years ago. Her parents had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight. Last year, at age 12, she weighed 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

"Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity," he said. After a year, she lost 130 pounds. Though she is still obese, her diabetes and apnea disappeared; she remains in foster care, he said.
A year in foster care?!!!  Because mommy and daddy were too poor to buy healthy food?

A year in foster care? Just to give a child three balanced meals and exercise? This is horrendously overreaching and intrusive, not to mention unnecessarily expensive to taxpayers.

See how easily the experts find it to redistribute other people's children willy nilly, just to forward their own personal agendas? They have no qualms about taking control where they don't belong.

These doctors want to shirk their own responsibility for their patients and pawn the problem off to the state as a feel-good solution, rather than put their money where their mouth is and provide a professional or community solution that would prevent the family from being put through the horror of state intervention.

It is obvious these experts have no concept of the hurdles faced by working poor and middle class families to provide the necessities of life, especially in this economy. Good, healthy food is expensive! Most families simply cannot afford good, healthy food. Fruit and nuts are far more expensive than chips and cookies and white bread, all of which are poor choices for anyone, much less anyone on a diet. Yet, if they spend the money on wholesome food, then there won't be nearly as much food in the house, which is often used to as grounds to remove a child from the family home. Now, even if there is enough food, if it's the wrong kind, snatch the kiddies and pay the foster care givers to feed them.

Many of the targeted families get food stamps, and cannot make ends meet without buying groceries that are heavy on the processed foods, pasta, cereals and high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar ingredients--those oh-so-bad "fluffy white" foods that cause so many health problems. Lean meat, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy are simply not as affordable.  And the schools aren't any better than those dastardly family homes with their Federally funded cheap, high-fat, high-starch, high sugar content menus they offer for school lunches. How can the parents be held accountable for what their child eats outside of the home?

The law already has a better solution. If a child is obese and the state is considering removing the child, the agency must first provide the parents with services to prevent the child's removal, as mandated by reasonable efforts.

This means the agency must provide the family with the means to purchase the expensive low-fat, low calorie wholesome food.  They must provide a nutritionist to help the parents plan appropriate menus and a cook to teach those who don't know how to cook how to prepare the meals according to that menu. They must provide the child with an exercise program or participation in sports, and provide the transportation, access or equipment for the child to participate daily in the sports or exercise. And if they hope to succeed in slimming this child down, they must provide some sort of peer support group to help the child stay on a healthy diet and exercise program.
US Navy 100519-N-7498L-053 Children from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Youth Sports Program at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, participate in a 1.5-mile fun run
Only after the parents fail to insure the child eats right and exercises should the state consider removing the child, and then, only if the child is on the brink of death.

Advocating yet another reason to burden an already overburdened, underfunded, understaffed and incompetent agency with more child welfare cases is not only a heartless solution from the perspective of the child and family, it's poorly thought out, lazy and profoundly irresponsible.

Little League Size, Big League Swing by D.F. Shapinsky (pingnews) (493970671)Definitions of abuse or neglect change with the current social fads (satanic ritual abuse, shaken baby syndrome, child sex rings and other debunked past hysterias come to mind) and cannot be relied upon from one case to the next. This is just another fad. I entered foster care as a child of normal weight and height. When I left a year later, I had gained one hundred pounds. The foster care givers ate a high-fat, high-starch, high-sugar diet. They were very obese, even their children were fat.  This was deemed to be an appropriate placement at the time. Even today, foster care givers are fat, feed the foster kids cheap fluffy white food which is identical to what the child's parents fed him. Unless foster care givers are mandated to provide good, wholesome food to all foster children, this idea isn't even worthy of consideration.

Too fat, too thin, too smart, too stupid, breastfed or not breastfed, too affectionate (enmeshed) or not affectionate enough (emotionally distant), too involved in athletics or a couch potato . . . no matter what the issue, child welfare agencies can make it legal to take a child. That doctors advocate child removals  rather than providing competent medical care to help the child eat better and become more active in the family home is the height of hypocrisy.  Who better than the pediatrician to get his own patient on the right track to a healthy lifestyle?